Nate Dogg (ne’ Nathaniel Hale) passed away on March 15, 2011. The rap superstar had been battling health issues after suffering two strokes a few years back. Nate was by far my favorite rap artist and was the greatest singer in hip-hop/rap. He had such an individual style; a mix of Lou Rawls, Cali-Gospel and GrandMaster Flash. He possessed such a natural melodic sense. The man could sing such beautiful lines with awesome rhythm all the while keeping a straight face delivering the often funny lyrics he wrote.
I’m really upset about his passing. I knew he had been ill, but for a cat like that to go so young (just 41!) it just seems criminal. While he was associated with West Coast Gansta Rap and sang some brutal lyrics, every interview I’ve ever read and every story from his friends painted a portrait of a guy who loved music, family and his homies. He sang on so many classic songs over the years! Getting the complete Nate Dogg discography will be difficult because Nate worked unselfishly with so many artists. He never tried to take the spotlight, but when he sang a songs hook, to me at least, it was his track! When he worked with Fabolous on “Can’t Deny It” it was Nate who made that song! No disrespect to Fabolous but…Nate was just so good. His solo records, the “G-Funk Classics” double album and “Music and Me” in particular, are full of songs teeming with melody and excellent singing. Some of the tracks don’t even feature a traditional “rap” guest or a rap verse. Just Nate singing great melodies in his inimitable way.
I encourage anyone who isn’t familiar with Nate’s work to listen to his music. Really listen. You’ll be amazed by his voice and talent, even if you don’t dig rap or hip-hop. When I first played some Nate for my wife she couldn’t get past the gangsta lyrics he was singing which can be highly profane and sometimes misogynistic. But once she stopped judging every word and really listened to Nate’s voice, his singing style, his talent…man, she was fan. Instantly. We joke around and sing his last line from “Next Episode” all the time: “Hey-ey-yay-ey! Smoke weed everyday.” It’s part funny, part braggadocios, but what a hook. Just thrown on the end piece, and no one else could do anything like it.
All the best to his family and friends in the LBC. G-Funk Forever!